“Perfect Illusion” Scores #1 Spin-Growth on US Radio Saturday

After reports surfaced earlier today supposedly confirming that Lady Gaga had been selected to perform at the Super Bowl next year turned out to be false, Little Monsters could use a little bit of good news.

ITunes sales f0r “Perfect Illusion” appeared to have largely stabilized while it was at #4 last weekend, but after about 1 week in the top ten, the song started dropping more quickly again. It currently sits at a dismal #51. This is a bad sign. Silver lining? Sia’s “The Greatest,” which for various reasons is clearly going to end up as another major hit and was only released a few days before “Perfect Illusion,” has shown a very similar dropoff curve, which indicates possible conformity with an unknown non-fatal structural trend.

However, the real good news comes from the radio numbers. Today marks the first day in which we can look at real week-over-week radio growth figures after the first day’s promotional airplay has dropped off the running tally. The trick is to watch growth figures stabilize into a predictable and consistent growth curve from which we can predict a song’s eventual peak.

The worst-case scenario would be essentially what happened to Britney Spears’  single “Make Me…” During its first week of release, it received excellent promotional first-day airplay and consistent and substantial radio airplay thereafter. But radio airplay at the end of the week was pretty much the same as at the beginning of the week, and after the promotional airplay dropped off, and the growth figures started to have a base level of airplay for comparison (the airplay total for the same day of the prior tracking week), it became clear that Britney’s single was barely growing in radio airplay at all. It never settled into a strong rate of radio airplay growth. It largely stagnated, and now, a month later, is well into a consistent decline curve.

The best case scenario is rapid day-over-day growth during the first week of release that lends itself to a still-impressive growth curve after the bump.

During the first week of airplay, I was concerned because “Perfect Illusion” did not appear to be exhibiting a clear pattern of day-over-day growth. At least, however, it did not appear to be losing ground.

So what are the numbers?

1.6M growth on overall US radio audience impressions (7th best). #73 (+8). +539 spins (1st best).

1.1M growth on US Pop radio audience impressions (6th best). #23 (+2). +299 spins (2nd best).

0.5M growth on US Adult Pop radio audience impressions (2nd best). #23 by spins (+0). +157 spins (1st best).

Why is the Sky Blue? 

Particles in the atmosphere tend to scatter visible light of the shortest wavelengths first, of which blue is perceived with particular clarity by one of our three color receptors. When the sun beams directly down at us, that means that there is one strong beam of whitish-yellow direct light (if you stare straight at the sun — but don’t…), and ambient blue light coming from all other directions.
During a sunset, sunlight must pass through a lot more atmosphere. The blue light is scattered first, and the longer wavelengths are scattered later, when they are more likely to be contacting the air from which the ambient light is refracting that you are perceiving.
Still confused? No? Ok. Great. My work is done. ;P

“Perfect Illusion” Update

“Perfect Illusion” was the 8th most-heard song overall on all of US radio during its first day of release, with 17 million Kworb-standard impressions. Radio impressions for subsequent days have been around 3.2M.

Primarily on the strength of first-day promotional airplay, “Perfect Illusion” debuted on the Pop Songs (Top 40) and HAC (Adult Pop Songs) weekly radio airplay charts for the tracking week ending Saturday, September 10th at #s 31 and 32 respectively.

NOTE: Sales and streaming are tracked on a Thursday – Thursday basis, and the two days of radio airplay were not alone enough to spark a debut on the Hot 100 for the tracking week that Billboard just reported on yesterday. This means that the initial promotional radio airplay spike will not count towards Gaga’s Hot 100 debut ranking. 

“Perfect Illusion” currently ranks at #4 on iTunes, and its sales decline appears to have slowed if not completely stabilized. Kworb.net currently estimates 95,000 first-week sales. Although not close to record-shattering, this is a robust figure that is consistent with the recent debuts of other big hits by major artists. It is comparable, for example, to the debut of Sia’s “The Greatest,” which is already clearly another huge hit. Of course, it is also comparable to the debut sales of Britney Spears’ “Make Me Ooh,” which subsequently stalled at radio.

“Perfect Illusion” currently ranks at #68 on the running weekly radio airplay chart. Given current trends, it should peak just inside the top 50 before its first-day promotional airplay drops off of the running tally.

On Spotify, “Perfect Illusion” was streamed 465,095 times in the United States on Monday, down from a peak of 594,798 on Friday, but up from a low of 422,776 on Sunday. It received 500,663 streams on Saturday. It is currently ranked at its low point of #30 on US Spotify. It debuted and peaked at #21. “Perfect Illusion” is currently at #32 on the Global Spotify chart with 1,432,210 streams on Monday.

By comparison, Sia’s “The Greatest” ranks at #11 on Global Spotify with 2,420,304 streams, and #15 on US Spotify with 613,759 streams. The #1 song on US and Global Spotify received 2,216,474 streams and 6,337,912 streams, respectively.

Gaga seems to have the strongest performance in Latin America and Mainland Europe. Here are the iTunes and Spotify positions for “Perfect Illusion” in every country in the world right now:

Perfect Illusion

 

“Perfect Illusion” scores solid 17 million first-day radio impressions

As expected, Lady Gaga’s new single has had a warm reception at pop and adult pop (HAC) radio during its first day of release, opening at #s 33 and 38, respectively, on the formats’ running weekly rankings.

Overall, Gaga’s new song was the #8 most-played song on US radio on Friday, largely based on the strength of promotional hourly airplay from iHeartRadio stations.

On iTunes, “Perfect Illusion” dropped to #2 on Saturday morning, in the face of continued strong sales for The Chainsmokers’ “Closer.” Both songs, however, maintain 2-1 sales leads over the #3 song, Twenty One Pilots’ “Heathens.” As previously reported, Gaga’s new single is expected to debut at #2 on digital songs after its first full week of sales, with 100,000 to 150,000 copies sold.

On the Billboard Hot 100, “Perfect Illusion” seems likely to debut in the top ten. It may crack the top 5, but is unlikely to contend for the #1 slot in the absence of intervention (i.e. music video drop, new scandal, television appearances, etc.).

Reviews of “Perfect Illusion” have been all over the board, with many commenters praising the song as one of Gaga’s best, but some were “unimpressed.” This review sums up the nuances of the contradictory positions particularly well.

One of the most-liked comments on “Perfect Illusion”‘s official audio on YouYube reads:

Perfect Illusion:
1st listen: What just happened…
2nd: I’ll give it a few more chances
10th: IT WASN’T LOOOVE
30th: Bitch take the grammy

Lady Gaga “Perfect Illusion” Early Sales/Chart Projections

I estimate that “Perfect Illusion” peaked with about 230,000 – 240,000 sales per week, or about 35,000 first-day sales. It has already started declining. I suspect it will decline to around 70,000 sales/week by the end of the first week, or 10,000 sales in its last day. This yields daily sales projections close to the following:

35,000
27,000
20,000
17,000
15,000
13,000
10,000

Total: 137,000 sales

+ 30M radio airplay
+ 8 million streams

Projection: Debut #4 – #12 on Hot 100
Prediction: Debut around #8 on Hot 100

I don’t currently have any actual US streaming or radio airplay numbers. The song may not officially officially impact HAC, AC, and Pop radio formats immediately; but the radio airplay tracking week doesn’t start until Sunday, so Gaga may have done that intentionally in order to stack first-day promotional radio airplay into the first tracking week.

It may be that when the song gets first-day promotional radio airplay, it will spur an immediate resurgence in sales and streams. This, along with possible promotion by Gaga (TV appearances, scandals, release of a music video) would modify our expectations.

As it is, the song looks likely to pull in 7-10 million WW first-day streams for the Youtube clip (not a music video yet) and a few million WW spotify streams. I expect Gaga’s streaming figures to be heavily tilted towards international audiences, and I expect a relatively sharp second and third day decline. WW Youtube views should stabilize around 2 million/day, given a strong reception at radio in the US and abroad, which I think is likely.

An abnormally large number of commenters one Gaga’s youtube video of the official audio for “Perfect Illusion” have noted that the song grew on them rapidly over repeat listens, occasionally causing a complete 180 degree turnaround from opinions of hatred and disappointment to adoration. This trend bodes well for the song’s long-term future at US radio, after a slow period during which the radio audience becomes gradually accustomed to it.

What do you think?

New Dance Single Tritonal feat. Adam Lambert & Jenaux Debuts on the iTunes Charts of 14 Countries, led by Finland @ #2

The new Adam Lambert song is called “Broken” and it is available for streaming on Spotify here, and in lyric video form here.
“Broken” follows fellow 2016 post-The Original High singles “Can’t Go Home,” “Welcome to the Show,” and Orlando-massacre-oriented charity single “Hands.” The Original High spawned two singles, “Ghost Town” and “Another Lonely Night.”
It’s no secret that Adam Lambert is one of the hardest-working artists in the music industry of 2015 and especially 2016. In addition to releasing 6 singles, he has also embarked on both a solo tour and a tour with Queen as the reincarnation of Freddie Mercury, done ads for Oreo and Macys, played a lead role in a reboot of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and judged a season of X Factor Australia.
To show for his efforts, Adam had the biggest paycheck of 2015 out of all American Idol alums. Oh, and he was also invited to perform “Girl Crush” at the 2015 CMT Artists of the Year event, before being nominated for an actual Country Music Television Award FOR that performance.

Keeping in mind that these are subject to substantial fluctuation especially for a song just released earlier today, here are the debut rankings for “Broken”:

Sia v. Madonna: Contrasting Two Female Artists Over 40

If you pay attention to the charts, you might notice that a female artist over the age of 40 just hit #1 on the Hot 100 for the first time in 16 years, when Madonna scored her 12th and final #1, “Music,” in 2000. At the time, Madonna was 42. Her next-most-recent #1 was “Take a Bow” in 1994.

Lady Gaga is 30. Beyonce is 34. Katy Perry is 31. Britney Spears is 34. Rihanna, with her long and storied career including more #1 hits than Michael Jackson, is still only 28. Adele, despite writing songs about “When We Were Young,” is the same age as Rihanna. Mariah Carey, who holds the record among soloists for the most #1 hits in the history of the Hot 100 (18), is 46. Madonna is 57. Sia is exactly 40. This is the short-list of female artists that could conceivably top the Hot 100 past the age of 40. Much like Madonna, Mariah Carey hasn’t reached #1 in eight years, and has had increasingly spotty success since then. Only 2 of her 18 #1s were released after the year 2000, in which Carey turned 30. The other giants all have years left to fall out of the public’s graces, assuming that that is even where they currently are. They are all maybes, with lots of ifs, buts, and caveats. Only Sia seems likely to top the Hot 100 again.

In the age of music videos and endless streaming, the female artist topping the Hot 100 over the age of 40 has nearly gone extinct. Despite colossal efforts, and 5 Top Ten hits to show for it across 5 studio albums, even the Queen of Pop herself has never managed to replicate her feat in 16 years.

In such a climate, how has Sia come to thrive?

1) She hides her face in music videos;

2) She is extremely talented at writing hit songs (and is therefore not dependent on access to hitmakers; she IS a hitmaker); and

3) She is actually legitimately an extremely talented vocalist.

In other words, Sia avoids letting her age actively damage her while she rides on pure talent. 

Age is irrelevant to Sia’s success, and that is why it is possible for her to continue breaking the trend.

I recently replied to a comment on a Billboard article that if Madonna’s recent flop “Ghosttown” had been released by Katy Perry, it would have been a #1 hit. My response was to acknowledge that it very likely would have debuted at least in the top 20. And it would have. The song is passable. It has the building blocks for a hit. But it was wrong for the commenter to blame ageist radio programmers for the song’s lack of success. Radio programmers are rational actors. They play what they think the public wants to hear. The truth is that very few people are buying new Madonna music these days, and people aren’t streaming her new videos on YouTube either (with the exception of the celebrity-stuffed “Bitch I’m Madonna” video).

It is true that the quality of Madonna’s music hasn’t actually declined. She hasn’t suddenly become less talented than she used to be, when she was still racking up more top ten hits than any other artist in the history of the charts.

But there are lots of talented artists (with songs as good as Ghosttown) that have difficulty breaking through. They also have difficulty not because their music isn’t good, or because radio programmers are ageist, sexist, homophobic, or racist, but simply because popularity is a positive trait. There has to be a sufficient affirmative reason FOR someone TO be famous and successful in the music industry. Simply releasing a catchy song that merely COULD be successful on the radio is not sufficient. Artists have to capture the public’s imagination, and make the public (or at least some subset of the public) fall in love with them. They have to find their niche. They have to find a way to stoke the media fire. And today, that is simply not as easy as merely releasing a song that simply COULD be successful if it were released by someone that the public already affirmatively wanted to like.

Madonna’s real problem is only indirectly her age. Her real problem is that she is no longer capable of generating real controversy. She expertly deployed her sexuality in the 1980s and 1990s to generate controversy and to keep the media fire stoked. She was beautiful, and extremely intelligent and talented at manipulating people, and that gave her opportunities which she expertly exploited. Now, the public is no longer enthralled with her beauty, and the world has moved beyond her many versions of controversy, after being completely desensitized by Lady Gaga’s meat dresses, giant eggs and diamond tears.

Madonna had enough vocal talent to pass. She had enough for her team to work with. But her real talent was never in her vocal talent or her songwriting talent. Her real strength was always in dealing with people. She expertly crafted her public image. She expertly pulled talented people into her team and motivated them to impress her.

Madonna’s skills took her very far indeed, but she really is getting old now. She is tired. Her magnetism is fading. Her labels are no longer willing to invest in her the way they once did. Her music is no longer young and fresh.

The real money for her is in touring, now. She can still sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tickets to her tours, and make the same salary as Adele or Beyonce. Hoping for hit singles, if she still does, is probably just an ego trip for her at this point, because it is pretty much completely irrelevant to her paycheck.

Sia, on the other hand, appears to be at the sunrise of her career. And, even though she had to hide her face to do it, even though her stunt is probably not replicable by nearly any other artist, from a feminist perspective, that is like a breathe of fresh air.